Gold & Silver

Record prices push down gold imports to 3-year low in August

Reuters NEW DELHI/MUMBAI | Updated on September 04, 2019 Published on September 04, 2019

August imports dropped 73 per cent to 30 tonnes from 111.47 tonnes a year-ago period.


India's gold imports plunged 73 per cent in August from a year ago to the lowest level in three years as a rally in local prices to a record high and a hike in import duty discouraged retail buying, a government source said on Wednesday.

Lower imports by the world's second-biggest consumer could cap gains in global prices that are trading near six-year highs but would help it bring down its trade deficit and support the rupee.

Read also: Gold imports plunge 55 per cent in July on record prices

India imported 30 tonnes of gold in August, down from 111.47 tonnes a year ago, said the source, who asked not be named as he was not authorised to speak to media. In value terms, August's imports fell 62 per cent to $1.37 billion, the lowest since August 2016.

On Wednesday, local gold futures hit an all-time high of ₹39,770 ($556.29) per 10 grams, taking their gains to more than 26 per cent in 2019.

Retail demand has been subdued for the past few weeks due to the price rise, said Ashok Jain, proprietor of Mumbai-based gold wholesaler Chenaji Narsinghji.

“A few consumers are selling gold. Scrap supplies have risen substantially,” he said.

India's gold demand is likely to soften in the September quarter as record-high local prices curtail buying, the World Gold Council said last month.

Discount offers

In August, dealers were offering a discount of up to $37 an ounce from official domestic prices, the biggest since August 2016. The domestic price includes a 12.5 per cent import tax and 3 per cent sales tax.

“Legal imports are falling due to smuggling. The price rise and duty hike has been increasing smuggling,” said a Mumbai-based dealer with a bullion importing bank.

The government raised an import tax on gold by 2.5 percentage points to 12.5 per cent in July's federal budget, effectively increasing smugglers' margins.

The customs officials seized 1,197.7 kg of smuggled gold in the April-June quarter, up 23 per cent from a year ago, a government official said on Monday.

India's gold imports in September could be less than 35 tonnes, down from last year's 81.71 tonnes, the dealer said.

Published on September 04, 2019
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